Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Free Trade Meets Immigration?

The Washington Post describes the peculiar state of U.S. immigration laws, and the hurdles they place in front of a German physician who wishes to work in the United States. We seem to make it easy to come to the U.S. to harvest vegetables, and are on the verge of creating a "guest worker" program presumably so we can expand that immigration largesse to nannies, gardeners, construction workers, and similar occupations. Many of these workers and their families will pay substantially less in taxes than they consume in government services. Our President supposedly believes in free trade, and favors this liberalized immigration policy, so why is he advocating for immigration reform only at the bottom of the labor market?


  1. 1. By "easy to come to the U.S. to harvest vegetables" are you referring to people who enter the country illegally or a lawful guest worker program?

    2. What is needed is a top down reform that covers everything from doing away with the concept of "born here equals automatic citizenship even if your parents are here illegally" to doing away with the "family" based system of immigration. Adopt a system that provides the opportunity to become a citizen on what skills/advantages you provide to the nation and not whether or not a relative of yours happens to be here. (And for good measure, do away with any provisions favoring individuals who claim to be seeking asylum.)


  2. I'm referring to legal entry. Our nation's agriculture depends heavily on migrant farm labor.

    I'm not sure that you could get much support for the first part of your proposal - although there are unquestionably anti-immigrant and 'zero population growth' groups which advocate elimination of citizenship based upon birth within the U.S. borders, some of which seem to have voices in Congress.

    Reducing the requirements on skilled professionals seeking to enter the U.S., as well as perhaps emulating Canada's largesse in relation to immigrants willing to start businesses, should be something that would get support (save from those who believe that immigration should have no relation to wealth, but I doubt that their voices are any stronger than those of the factions which want to do away with citizenship based upon birth). If we're going to take the "flat earth" notion that our nation's white collar jobs are going to be exported, why not give employers the opportunity to instead import the foreign skilled workers and keep the tax and job base at home?

    It's just funny how quickly Bush will cave in to the business interests which want a "guest worker" program as a form of indentured servitude for unskilled workers, but otherwise seems quite content to make it harder for foreign students to attend U.S. universities, to do nothing to attract or retain manufacturing jobs in this country, and to allow white collar jobs to be exported.


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